The mall is a glorious place for Moms of young children. Akin to an indoor playground for both Mother AND Child, it is full of glee-filled places such as Toy Stores, hot dog trucks, carousels, and, of course, shopping.

But it doesn’t come without it’s risks – without the dangers of attack.

The Kiosk Predators.


I often wonder if they hate their job as much as I hate their job.

Although some kiosks sell desirable things, the ones with the predators are the ones that sell things that no one wants for more money than anyone would ever pay, and their only hope is to convince you to let them try their undesirable product on you which will STILL not make you want it, all of which creates an attitude of desperation, which, if handled wrong, can turn into hostility and even, legend has it, violence.

So, you can either spend your mall visits having the following continuous dialogue… “No, I would not like my hair straightened. No I would not like a freaky hairpiece. No, my three year old doesn’t need a hairpiece either. No, I would not like a 15 minute massage while my kid runs amuck throughout the mall. No, I don’t smoke, nor do I know anyone who needs your electric cigarettes. And, by the way, you look really cheesy smoking them.”

Or, you can implement a few simple strategies to help you avoid, overcome, and come out victorious against the Great Kiosk Predators.

And, since everyone may not spend as much time at the mall as I do, I decided to write a guide to help you survive any holiday mall trips you may find yourself embarking upon.

1. You must know your enemies and their strategies.

a. The Eastern European guy at The Nutty Bavarian booth will try to draw you in with his Mediterranean dark, mysterious, sultry eyes. Do not make eye contact lest you become unable to refuse his nut samples.

b. The Barbie-esque hair straightener girls are vicious. Don’t turn your back on them lest you find yourself jabbed in the back with a 200 degree hair straightener. Also, if not told no firmly enough (all while not turning your back on them), they will try a second attempt of wanting to straighten your child’s hair. Apparently, they lack the common sense that 200 degrees + 3 year olds does not end in a happy equation.

c. The Israeli guy at the weird sea salt lotion booth will implore you with a look of desperation, as if he is kept in a cage underneath the kiosk at night. He will also not give up. You must be firm and walk fast. Very fast. Oh – and the Israeli trinkets he sells at Christmastime? Check the little gold sticker. They’re usually made in Lebanon. Ironic, no?

d. The Chinese hairpiece lady may try to throw a hairpiece into your head before you even see her. This may feel like you just got attacked by a small, furry woodland creature. Don’t panic – she’ll use your moment of confusion against you.

2. Be aware of High Risk Days. Similar to the smog alert that comes on the news each morning, prepare yourself accordingly.

  • If it is a less crowded day at the mall, the risk of attack is higher because the prey is less available.
  • If it is holiday season, the number of Kiosk Predators may be higher, raising the risk of attack.
  • If you are alone, your risk is MUCH greater. Travel in packs to help ensure safety, and to help you escape (without buying a small woodland creature for your hair) if you get ensnared.

3. Know the Kiosk Danger Zones and plan your route accordingly.
For instance, I have made the following sample diagram and legend of my mall, the Riverchase Galleria, to aid in the planning process:

KioskLegendVertical copy
As you can see, most areas of certain attack can be avoided by strategically planning your route between the two floors. But, of course, you may NEED to go through the high risk areas of the mall, so when you enter a yellow zone, you need to go ahead and start planning your Strategy of Avoidance…


4. Strategies of Avoidance:

  • Hang back away from the red zone until you see someone of a similar attackable demographic walking by. Then run past as quickly as you can while they are devoured by the flesh-eating-Kioskers.
  • Walk as closely to the “real” stores as possible, looking intently in each and every window. This is a weak strategy, however, because Kiosk Predators are not afraid to reach out and grab you. Also, you may walk into someone else due to your intent focus on the stores.
  • Pinch your child to make them scream right as you’re walking into a red zone. They should decide that you’re not worth the kill, but even if they don’t, you can pretend you can’t hear them over the wails of distress.
  • Have a failproof excuse for each booth. To the Nutty Bavarian, say as you walk by quickly, “I’m allergic to nuts.” To the hair straightener girls, “I prefer the frizzy look.” To the hairpiece lady, “I’m already wearing a hairpiece. Can’t you tell this isn’t real??”

The bottom line is that preparation is key. And it may be the only way that you don’t find yourself wondering how and when you bought a hairpiece for your baby.

49 thoughts on “Kiosk Warfare: A Guide for Survival.

  1. Very funny! I just ignore them and walk right by. I've never had anyone actually touch me, but I don't put it past them.

  2. All this is so true. The hair piece lady and the sea salt guy are the worst. They are ruthless and I wonder if people really ever buy the stuff. I never see anyone actually buying.

    Just another reason for me to avoid the Galleria.


    I've been at the mall, fresh out of bed, no make up, lucky to be dressed and I got the "Do you use mineral make-up?" kiosk attack. Seriously? Not only am I obviously not wearing make-up at all, I am barely human.

    Must be a sucky job.

  4. what about the nail shiners? the ones where they just grab your hand and start filing away crazily on your poor ring finger… I hate them! I also like the avoidance approach of bringing a large menacing and glaring male comrade to walk in between you and the kiosk crazies.

  5. Hilarious, I laughed out loud several times while reading!

    I think this is my new favorite post!!

    I have implemented several of your strategies, but my new favorite one is "pinch your child" while you walk by a kiosk…what a brilliant idea! I think I might have to try it out tonight, we're going to the mall for a pretzel.

    What really gets me is I'll be pushing my double stroller through the mall (& sometimes Luke's walking b/c I have Julia) and at least one of them is fussing or asking for something, and yet one of the kiosk predators STILL try to stop me. While I want to yell, "Do I look like I have time to hear your speech?!?"…I'm usually polite & say "sorry not today".

    Oh, and I have been stopped by the massage people when I'm alone with the kids and I just look at them dumbfounded like how in the world can I relax & get a massage with 2 young kids to watch?!

    1. Lol. You should say sure..I’ll take the longest massage you offer and by the way…you won’t mind watching my children for me!

  6. I never have understood why someone would want PART of their hair straightened in the mall. In the middle of a shopping trip. What a strange request.

    Good ideas. I'll keep them in mind!

  7. The hair straightener people obviously don't have kids because they ALWAYS try to stop me – even when I had both my 2-year old and my 4-year old nephew with me! Besides, my hair is naturally straight and I made it curly on purpose.

  8. I don't think I would ever have a problem telling the guy at the mall that I didn't want to sample his nuts. In fact… I almost want to find a guy at a nut kiosk so I can say really, really loudly "No thank you, sir, I do NOT wish to sample your nuts!"

    And I've never had trouble telling the lotion dude that I didn't want the little cup of white stuff he shoved at me either… dude, that could be ANYTHING.

    Maybe Canadian kioskers aren't as predatory as yours, but I can usually get away with shaking my head as I walk by…

  9. So funny! I always think the same thing especially when my kids are with me. I want to say "does it look like I can sit and get a massage or my hair straightened right now?! I think NOT!!!"

  10. That is so funny and so true. The Sea Salt guy here in Gainesville, tried to lure my sister in by asking her what her heritage is. She my sister unlike me has very dark brown hair and eyes that are almost black so I think he was hoping she was of Israeli descent and she would take pity on him.

  11. from one mall shopper to another you absolutely hit the nail on the head! i have actually had a kiosk guy follow me for about 20 feet NOT wanting to give up. I finally had to ask politely for him to leave me alone.

  12. That Dead Sea kiosk has a pack of Grindylows. I got grabbed last year at Christmas time and I swear the little imp about sanded my whole fingernail off.

  13. I get hit all the time by this guy on the first floor just befpre going around the corner to the Mountain High Outfitters store at Riverchase, he is persistent.

    I actually had a young gal grab my arm for Bella Terra Mineral Make-up here in GA and she is taking off my glasses to put an all in one powder on me…hey…I don't know how many other faces she has used that brush on besides being totally annoyed that she "wasn't trying to sell me anything" but started hitting buttons on the cash register. Geez.

  14. Lol. Great post! My mom and I always pretend to be in deep conversation when we pass them and they usually leave us alone.

    Do you guys have the painted hermit crab ones? Those ones always get me in trouble b/c, of course, K says she wants one and then you have to emply the stratgies on the kiosk people and your kid. I might have to use the pinching one just for the hermit crab stand. Haha:)

  15. GREAT post!! hahahaahah!
    oh the Dead Sea Salt people!! Suckered me in to buy TWO (yes count them, T.W.O!!) packages of the dead sea salt junk. Here's the thing though. We actually got to talk with the girl for about an hour about her heritage, beliefs, and then got to share with her a crazy amount about Christ. It was cool. But in the end we were like, "uh…we can't just leave now and not buy anything after absorbing an hour of her time." So, two packages it was. It was a "good deal" by kiosk standards I guess, but still, the fact that I bought something from a fake store in the middle of the mall has erked me to this day.

  16. Oh, wow…I can't remember the last time I was in a mall, but I will most definitely keep this in mind the next time it comes up….

  17. Haha this is great and so true!! Those hair ladies are relentless, even when you're hair's already straight! I love the map :)

  18. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for this post & the awareness that you are raising about this mall atrocity! I mean good grief! ]

    I used to work at the mall & DAILY they would ask to straighten my hair & DAILY I would say no. Finally one day, I was so fed up that I said, "LOOK AT MY HAIR! IT'S STRAIGHT! I DON'T NEED A STRAIGHTENER! LOOK AT MY FACE! I WORK HERE & EVERY STINKIN' DAY YOU ASK ME IF I WANT A STRAIGHTENER! LEAVE ME ALONE!"

    & I proceeded to the escalator, & that rude man had the nerve to yell back at me while I was making my ascent! I mean, good grief!!

  19. Ha!! Love it, especially the strategy of pinching my child. I think that would work the best.

    Wait…don't you have really straight hair. Not the moat observant people, huh?

  20. Love your Galleria diagram. I make it a practice never to go to the Galleria when I can get it somewhere else. LBeau wears Brooks Brothers shirts and pants. I was thrilled when they moved to the Summit. I may never have to go to the Galleria again.

  21. Amen sistah!

    Avoid eye contact at all times. Or if you do make eye contact accidentally you have to find your backbone and hold up your hand and tell them straight up, "NO THANK YOU." You have to throw in the THANK YOU, cause you know, being southern and all.

    Man we went to the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey and THAT was FRIGHTENING. For realz.

  22. I LOVE this post. It really cracks me up b/c tho I’m from Alabama I now live in Canada and we have the EXACT SAME kiosks! And nobody buys their junk here either. How do they stay in business?

    One funny experience was when a kiosk guy asked me & my husband to try something while we were talking. My husband laughed at what I was talking about & the kiosk guy turned mean. “Hey dude!” he yelled…”This is my JOB and it’s rude to laugh at me!” We totally weren’t laughing at him but then we started. My husband said “Really…if you are this bitter about working at a kiosk, maybe you should find a different job.”

  23. UGH I hate the kiosk people! It has gotten so bad that I feel like I am walking the streets of Mexico with all the street vendors yelling at me!… & the Galleria wonders why they can’t attract any decent anchor stores. It’s because they have cheapened the mall so much with these yelling kiosk people that no decent, upstanding store would want to be there. Also avoid the Essence perfume kiosk. They are selling fake fragrances & trying to pass them off as legit. I never thought I would see the day come when the Riverchase Galleria would allow fake products to be sold out in the open. Kinda makes you wonder if the Coach handbags in the Galleria Coach store are real huh?!?

  24. Just started reading your fantastic blog! If I knew how to attach a photo, I’m sure you would be tickled to see it. My mother and I took my two girls (3 & 1) to stride rite. My mom and the girls left the store while I collected all of our bags, etc. I walked out & immediately saw my mom allowing my girls to attack a pillow pet kiosk! They had pulled down stacks of pillow pets & were laying on each one on the floor in the mall. Don’t know where the kiosk worker was during that 5 minutes of destruction, but he wasn’t happy when he returned, to say the least. I apologized, but I was laughing & taking pics at the same time. It was kiosk karma- I just KNOW IT!

  25. Ok, I know this is an old post, but I am just now reading it.

    Having worked at said mall, and other malls in and around the area, I would have to agree that the kiosk workers are in a league ENTIRELY of their own! Kiosk workers are acutally some sort of mutated version of infomercial hosts, and they WILL grab your arm, they WILL follow you INTO various stores, the WILL share an escalator ride with you as you run, they WILL corner you, and heaven forbid you work an opening or closing shift (or a tuesday morning shift) you will get attacked by a band of mutant infomercial-esque kiosk trolls!

    If it reaches the point where they know your name…. you MUST IMMEDIATELY
    a) transfer to a different store location,
    b) quit your job and avoid the mall at all costs, or
    c) invest in a tazergun and an electric shock field installed around your person.

    Good luck to the unsuspecting, innocent, and ENTIRELY NAIVE person entering American (particularly, Birmingham area) malls!

    1. How is it that they won’t leave other employees alone?? I mean, how many times could you POSSIBLY want to consider getting a hair straightener?? I find this appalling, and just a little bit fascinating.

  26. Im a Birmingham Native and mom of three ages 4-1. When I take my four year old daughter to the mall we have the talk “when we are not in a store we walk fast and look at the floor”. I hope one day this training will help her avoid the mean lady with the hair straightener. The short dark haired girl that always has on skinny jeans is the one to avoid or it could hit defcom 5 real quick. Love your blog!!!

    1. Yes!! And just so you’re prepared next visit, the dead sea mineral guys just got a new and very impressive kiosk – I’m sure they’re more desperate than ever because they have to pay that thing off.

  27. I live near Beaumont, Texas, and a couple times a year I like to go to Houston for a day of relaxation and fun. The last two times, that has included a visit to the Houston Galleria. On my last visit, I walked by one of the many (Houston’s Galleria has a LOT of them) kiosks, and I declined when the girl called out to me. I could not believe what happened when I passed that kiosk the next time. The girl had the nerve to ask me “did you come back for me, honey?” Pardon me for saying, but I could have thrown up right then and there. I wish I had said “don’t flatter yourself” but who knows what that would’ve led to.

    Our mall in Beaumont has a few kiosks, but only one Dead Sea kiosk, which is the only one that I concern myself with as far as making sure I avoid it. For a while this year, it was staffed only with men, so there was no problem, I could just walk by without even being called at. But in the last two or three weeks, some girls have started working there again, and I get sick to my stomach every time I go by there because of what happened in Houston. By the way, my two favorite avoidance tricks are pretending I’m on my cell phone or just listening to my iPod as I walk around the mall.

    1. It works, does it not?? Except for the hair people – they don’t mind grabbing the arm of a phone-talker. Gotta watch out for them.

  28. here in johnson city tn at the mall we have the dreaded hair straightner lady when i informed her that my hair is so naturally straight that strands could be used in a drafting class ( im talking not a hint of a curl or even a wave in it i pay big bucks for my curls ) she looks at me and says it looks curly to me i say good my hairdresser will be happy she did a good job she continues to state as i walk off about how horrible looking curls are people who have curly hair are ugly and stupid yeah that will drum her up some business lol

  29. wow, you’d think they’d get in trouble for grabbing people! i just ignore them and say no thank you and keep walking if that doesn’t work. that job would SUCK.

  30. the Dead Sea Nazi’s attacked me last nite. I was offered 2 bottles of gunk for $59 each…which i refused. so she said okay 4 for $59 each. again, NO. she then said all 4 for $59. Again i said NO!!! she said to not tell anyone but she’d give me all 4 for $20.00. I said NO NO NO NO NO!!! Then i said NO.

  31. I got suckered in by a Kiosk called Straight Ahead at Lakeside Mall in Sterling Heights MI. She said her name was Michelle and she was Italian and her parents are still in Italy and she moved to Los Angeles and then to Michigan and showed me how the 1.25 Diamond Flat Iron worked. She would not let me go….she proceeded to show me how it curled hair and it did look nice. I told her I could not walk around the mall with one side straight and one side curly so she did straighten the other side and my hair looked nice. She showed me the back of the box and said it retailed for $300.00 but offered a price to me for $169.99 and I said no that is too much. She also said if you send your friends to me I will give you the Iron plus condition for $150.00. I made the mistake of offering $100.00 for both and she took the deal. I asked her if I could bring it back after trying it at home and get my money back if I did not like it and she said absolutely. I asked her several times throughout the conversation about returning it and getting my money back and my friend was with me and heard the entire conversation. Well I tried it at home and I do not like the product. I took it back today and she said I cannot do anything for you and showed me a sign stating no refunds. I asked her to call her manager or supervisor and she did and spoke Arabic to whoever she called and she told me that her manager could not do anything for me and to call the number on the back of the box and there is no number on the back only a website. BRILLIANCENEWYORK.COM. I told her I wanted a credit issued to my credit card and she said she would never tell me that I could get my money back or bring the product back. Why she would lie like that and a few other words were exchanged and I told her I wanted to see her manager and she said she was going to call Security. I said yes please call Security. She just looked at me. She knew what she was doing was wrong. I told her that someday someone was going to do the same thing to her and she should be ashamed of herself. I was very upset and asked her how she can sleep at night? I also went to the Information Center of the Mall and filled out a complaint against the business and her. I also went to another Kiosk that they have at the same Mall and they would not do anything either. A young punk started to get nasty with me. The young lady was nice but he was a jerk and rude. Well the Company was closed by the time I got home. What can I do if anything? I do not want the product. I want my money back.

  32. OMG!! So I guess I was possessed yesterday, went to the mall and got ripped off! $600 in the hole! This girl working at the Dead Sea kiosk got me good!!! So angry! Lesson learned never again stopping by to try anything. Rotem was her name sure got me good on this one… For you shoppers out there DO NOT STOP! Keep walking!!!!

  33. next time a hair straightening barbie insists she irons your hair, hit her with “you have a cosmetology license? no? i rest my case”. I’m a licensed cosmetologist, the license enables me to use hot tools on clients. unlicensed kiosk workers ARE NOT allowed to use heat on their “clients”. SMACK THEM WITH THE TRUTH!!! lol

  34. We dont hate our job as much as u hate us darling, we are used to people like u and we LOVE to make fun of them even if they don’t buy anything. I don’t expect u to understand this job, probably u have the job that u deserve. We make a lot of money there the commission it’s huge I’m working in a kiosk over 5 years only commision, and I bet u wouldn’t last a day.

  35. Hated of the highest order for women who want to improve me with lotion I don’t need. I leave my apartment feeling good about myself then a kiosk skank says she wants to give me something for my eyes, which are young, green and pretty BTW. They crack your self esteem with those murderous asides implying you’re not ok.
    That is NOT OK.

  36. I get your job is tough but so is mine, and everyone else’s. Carmela you wouldn’t last a second in my life. Although your attitude suggests my initial hatred is deserved.
    But peace and love. I hope you prosper.
    We all have to exist together so maybe just watch how we all interact.

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